The Dobermans

As part of the census training, we learned about the greatest threats to us as census employees.

The greatest threat of harm was actually slipping and falling. It is very easy to get distracted especially when you are finishing up cases on your census phone while walking. Whoops! Guilty. Thankfully I didn’t fall but I did almost get into someone else’s car. I’ve also been on enough rickety staircases to last me a lifetime.

The third greatest risk of injury was due to car accidents. I could easily understand how that could happen especially when you have to find an address that is poorly marked at dusk.

Today I want to talk about the second greatest threat of injury, animals. I was more likely to be attacked by an animal than a person. I did worry at times of being assaulted or murdered although the percentage of injuries or deaths were rather small from those threats.

My supervisor told me about an employee who was swarmed by bees after knocking on an unused front door. I did come across nests rather frequently but lucked out in that regard.

I was more wary of dogs. I carried treats in my car. It was always a judgment call. How threatening does this dog appear? How old is the dog? How big is the dog? Are there signs that a dog lives there? Did the beware of dog sign hold any merit?

One day I had to make a house call in the middle of nowhere. The front door appeared to be a sliding door. When I knocked on it two Dobermans answered. They hurled their massive bodies against the sliding door and snarled at me. Next to the sliding door was an open window. It wouldn’t have taken much for the dogs to crash through the screen and maul me to death.

It shook me up a little. What if the dogs were outside when I got there and we didn’t notice each other right away?

I was wary of scary looking dogs. Thankfully most of the time the big scary looking dogs had owners nearby.

Oh deer!


I awoke this morning to find a doe in the dead center of my driveway. 

I knew it was going to be an interesting day.

It certainly wasn’t what I meant when I said bring me the dough…Hmmm..

Why my driveway? Why!!?! We got a few strange looks… Some idiot probably hit it at bar time and left it in our driveway.. Geez…

I took advantage of the sad situation by having a photo shoot. I was happy that she seemed to be out of her misery quickly.

Do you notice anything peculiar about this picture? Besides the obvious of having a deer blocking my driveway. I mean, really?? How often does something like that happen??

In this picture, I am wearing a sleeveless shirt and shorts……in the middle of November! It has been a warm fall. It feels more like September than November. Yesterday I saw someone mowing their lawn in shorts! I only had to use the treadmill once this season and that was because it was pouring out. I usually start running on the treadmill in the beginning of October when the first flurries start to fall. 

It has been a great season for running and biking. I see so much wildlife on my journeys. Sometimes I sing to the cows as I breeze by. I am goofy like that. 

One of the craziest times on my bike happened last week the day after Election Day. I don’t know if I was suffering from a total sleep hangover or what. My whole route seemed ominous. The eerie silence was broken by the howling of a large pack of dogs in the distance. I always wondered what to do about dogs on my road bike. Do I try to outrun them and possibly end up somehow tripping over them at high speeds or stop and let myself get mauled? Jury is still out on that one.. I did see a huge dog on that day. It’s owner was dragging behind him on a leash. I wondered if it would be the day he would break away. Thankfully not!

Then there was noise coming from the railroad tracks. It set off a donkey that started braying loudly. I think I ride on the zoo route. I’ve seen horses, donkeys, alpacas, roosters, deer, skunks, squirrels, cats, and a plethora of dogs. 

Anyway, back to the story..I got to the railroad tracks and noticed they were doing some sort of repairs. There was a backhoe on the tracks coming towards me at a fast clip. WTH?? Who has the right of way? Who yields?? I wish I would have worried about all of the possibilities because I didn’t know..

That day I also noticed all of the Trump signs flapping in the wind. It struck me that I didn’t see any Hillary signs along my routes. How strange that our state turned from a blue state to a red state. I remember just a few years back when my route was filled with Recall Walker signs. (Our state had a recall vote to recall our governor which didn’t go through). My neighbor was one of the few that had a ‘I stand with Walker’ sign. Someone dumped a jar full of nails in his driveway that year. Who knows, maybe someone would’ve dumped nails in his yard if he put a Hillary sign out this year…People here can be a little strange. It’s the long winters.

Talking about winter, I heard that this long wonderful warm spell is coming to a grinding halt this weekend just in time for the opening of deer hunting season. We will have strong winds and snow. YES, SNOW! We haven’t even had a flurry yet…Today I even got tan lines from running…

Good bye, summer! Hello, winter! Oh deer!

The Pacific shore

The last few days of our trip to CA, we visited the Pacific Ocean for the first time.

After we left the winery, we drove to the marina in Oceanside with the thought of possibly renting a sailboat. We watched gigantic waves crash with a loud thundering crescendo over the breakwater. We saw a sailboat raise its main sail, get to the breakwater, then turn back around only to lower its sail again. We were out of our element. We decided it would be too risky.

I also thought that I could go surfing for the first time. I was afraid of sharks and sting rays, but frankly maybe I was afraid of the wrong things. When we arrived at the beach in Carlsbad, the waves crashing into the shore were above our heads. Just standing on the shore when the waves came in caused enough force to knock me down. I decided to watch Paul on the boogie board first before I attempted to do it myself. Then I saw a big wave crash Paul’s body into the ground like he weighed nothing.

Again, we felt out of our element. Those waves were for experienced surfers, not first timers. I also thought that I could swim in the water. No one was doing that. It would have been difficult to get past the waves.

Alcoholic beverages were not allowed on the beach. I thought that was strange. I don’t think that I have ever been on a beach in Wisconsin where people weren’t drinking. Maybe it would be different if our summers were year round. The warm sunny summer weekends are like holidays here. They don’t happen often enough.

Another thing I noticed about the town of Carlsbad was that it was very pedestrian friendly. They had a nice running track. Also, when pedestrians crossed the street they pushed a button that turned on a yellow flashing yield light. All of the traffic stopped to allow pedestrians to cross. The first few times, I ran across as fast as I could and waved a little sorry wave. Pedestrians cross at their own risk at home.

While we were in Carlsbad, we stayed at the Pelican Cove Bed & Breakfast. The owner, Nancy, was very helpful. She made excellent breakfasts and gave us little tips about where to eat and what to do. The room was not air conditioned, nor did it need to be. We left the windows open at night. It did get a little loud. Quite a few trains traveled through town.

The houses in Carlsbad were very close together. From our room, we could see into the house next door. We could smell their cooking and hear them talk. That is a bit unusual in WI. Even in Milwaukee, where the houses are close together, people at least have a small yard to mow. Some people didn’t have a yard there at all. There wasn’t a feeling of privacy, but that didn’t seem to matter.

We also noticed that Carlsbad is a very dog friendly town. People take their dogs with them everywhere. We saw more people with dogs than kids. We were at several restaurants where there were dogs inside. People in WI leave their dogs at home. I have never seen a dog in a restaurant here unless it was a service dog. A man next to us in the restaurant told us that he had his dog genetically tested to see what his pedigree was. How unusual.

Someday, I hope to go back. It was a lovely place.

Travel woes, the mess we returned to

The first 24 hours upon our return from Orlando was such an emotional roller coaster ride that it rivaled some of the roller coasters that we were on during our vacation. While we were gone, we had icy roads. School was delayed. On the way to work, our employee hit a patch of black ice propelling her into the ditch. It wasn’t her first accident, she was so upset that she could barely work. On our way home, we saw a car in the ditch. Disoriented people were wandering around outside of their car in the middle of the highway. We faced the prospect of having to shovel 5 inches of heavy icy snow when we got home that evening.

While we were gone, we hired my daughter’s 17 year old friend to pet sit. She has been our pet sitter for the past two years without any issues. That being said, we were not prepared for the mess that was waiting for us. When we got home, our pet sitter was stuck in our unshoveled driveway. Our garbage bin was lying in the ditch tipped over spewing out garbage that was put out too late to be picked up. We parked our car on the road, running into the house quickly getting hit with blowing snow while jumping over snow banks. When we got inside, there were piles of dog crap everywhere along with rings of piss and puke in multiple locations all over our living room carpet. The floors were filthy, there was dog shit caked on our toilet seat. 

Our pet sitter started crying saying that she got a second job and asked her mom to help her with the pets. Her mother is absolutely crazy. She is the woman that the neighbor’s called the cops on because she would speed around the school bus while its stop sign was out. She also overfed her own dog from her hand. She somehow thinks that people don’t feed their dogs enough. It seemed as if she overfed our dog without letting him out. There were 4 piles of puke which contained a total of about 2 cups of food, our dogs total daily food allowance. Our dog seemed sick when we got home and threw up again during the night. I started cleaning up the mess while our pet sitter cried hysterically. Paul was able to get her out of the driveway and start on the shoveling. After our pet sitter went home, she got into a huge fight with her mother where things were broken and thrown. 

While I was cleaning up, I noticed a couple of wet stinky towels bunched up underneath the rest of the towels. It looked like someone was cleaning up a mess but trying to hide it. Then the kids and I noticed that some of our things in our bedrooms were out of place. Someone went through all of our personal belongings. I have never felt so violated and sickened in my life. I cried thinking of how my pets were not cared for properly. The house was absolutely trashed. Paul and I were finally were able to get to bed around midnight. When I woke up the next morning, I discovered more poorly cleaned up piss rings on the carpet. We ending up spending as much money renting a carpet cleaner that we did paying our house sitter. I am kicking myself for not taking pictures of the mess we returned to.

The next day I headed back to work. I was so busy catching up from the time that I spent away that I didn’t have time to do any more cleaning. To make matters worse, my in-laws were coming over that night for supper. My mother-in-law was going to be in the area because she needed a PET scan. Back in November, the doctors found a tumor in her stomach and lungs. They did a biopsy on the tumor in her stomach because that was less invasive. They found that the tumor in her stomach was highly treatable, so we decided to go ahead with our vacation plans. In December, the doctors decided to do a biopsy on my mother-in-law’s lungs. She had a collapsed lung and pneumonia which they treated with heavy duty antibiotics. But what was troubling was the finding that the cancer in her lungs was a different kind of cancer that was in her stomach. They are afraid it may be in other organs. She had breast cancer 15 years ago, now 2 different cancers in 2 different organs. Monday we will get the test results.

When I got home from work on Thursday night, my mother-in-law was sitting in the recliner wrapped in a blanket. She did not feel good enough to go out to eat so we ordered food instead. She was so frail, weak, and sickly looking. It was hard to see her like that. When she left she spoke in a hoarse strained voice. She told us all that she loved us. She told Angel that she would like to see the college that she picked out someday. This is the point that Angel ran into the other room crying. My mother-in-law said good bye to me. She thanked me for being a great wife to her son. It seemed so final. I went in the other room to cry and comfort Angel. 

The beginning and end of our vacation was very rough. I am glad that we were able to get away for a couple of days of fun. I am afraid that the next couple months will be very difficult. I guess we will find out for sure on Monday. 

Christmas (pet) lover

Many, many ages ago when I first met Paul, he performed a quick thinking pet rescue. Christmas time can offer new dangers for pets.

Paul has always been a dog lover. When I met him he had a dog. I have always been a cat lover. When I met him I had two cats. If I didn’t marry him, I may have been destined to be the crazy old cat lady. So we struck up a compromise after marriage, he has one dog and I have one cat. It is a good arrangement and with 3 kids we do not have any more openings for pets or people.

During the Christmas of 1995, Paul and I were in his apartment when across the hall we heard cries for help. There was a desperate pounding on the door of his apartment followed by hysterical screams from the neighbor lady. She was crying and shaking as she grabbed us into her apartment. Her little dog was wrapped in the Christmas tree lights. He was trying to free himself but was becoming more and more tangled in the process. The cord wrapped tightly around his neck.

Everything was happening so fast that I too began to panic. Paul, however, ran back to his apartment to grab his scissors. He held the struggling dog down while he cut the cord that was wrapped around his neck. Time and time again, Paul has acted in situations where most people freeze. This makes me feel safe because I know I can’t seem to control my inaction during those times.

On that winter day, my Christmas lover became a hero in my eyes. Paul the Pet Rescuer. I knew that I had to keep this guy.


Christmas with the in-laws

It is Christmas Eve in the year 2000, my baby and I are sick. I haven’t been able to leave the house. That prompted me to write in this journal even though it has been almost 5 years since the last time I wrote. It has been a hard Christmas this year. Aside from having a 2 year old and a baby, my grandpa passed away a week and a half ago. I haven’t been able to sing in church this year because I lost my voice and ended up changing a lot of plans for the funeral.

Tonight my in-laws came over for a Christmas Eve supper. We made cornish hens, mashed potatoes, corn, stuffing, bread, bars, and cheesecake for the meal. My in-laws arrived over two hours late. They brought their outdoor dog with them because it is very cold outside tonight. While I was eating supper, I found a dead flea like bug in my corn. It made me lose my appetite, but I didn’t say anything. Later I threw out my corn.

After dishes and presents, it was time to put the kids to bed. While I was doing that, their dog peed all over the carpeting in our new house. My in-laws fought about can openers. Then my mother-in-law said she wasn’t going to church for Christmas because she needed to make slippers. Her husband told her that she needed to get her G. damn priorities straight then promptly fell asleep while Paul read the Christmas story out of the book of Matthew.

They finally left around 11:30 PM. We spent a half an hour cleaning up the 2 big piles of dog crap that we found. After this Christmas, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Marathon training, 2 days to go

I have been running 6 years now and racing for one. I signed up for my first half marathon and first marathon in January. No, it was not a part of a New Year’s resolution. To tell you the truth, I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. I think that I should try to be a better person every day of the year, not just a couple of weeks after a night of drunken debauchery. If you kept your New Year’s resolution this year, good for you. I can’t say that I know of anyone who has. 

I would have to say that I earned most of my grit in childhood. Every single time my autistic brother slugged, hit, or scratched me I told myself that the physical pain, bruises, or scars would make me stronger. I followed that mantra back then and I follow it now. The physical pain has made me stronger, gave me the endurance not to quit the race. 

I finished my first half in 2 hours and five minutes. It was a very humid day, so even though I was not able to finish in my goal time of less than 2 hours I was ok with that. I am hoping to finish the marathon between 4 and 4 1/2 hours. Less than 4 hours will be unrealistic. Between 4 1/2 and 5 hours would still be ok. I will be sad if I can’t do it in 5 hours. We’ll see. 

Will I buy marathon photos? No way! Every race photo I’ve seen of myself makes it look like I am dying. Not a pretty picture. If you look great in those pictures, you are not trying hard enough. I often hear nonrunners say that they don’t want to run because we look so miserable. So I try to smile and wave back at the people that are friendly on the road so more people want to join the sport. Neighbors and acquaintances have asked why I am out on the streets so much. Now why does that make running sound so dirty? 

I wish my kids were hard core runners, instead my dog is. He cries like a baby when he can’t run. He is almost 8 and kept limping around after running with my husband. We put our dog on joint pills and it has been really working good. Almost too well, in fact. The first day he dug a hole to China. Then he escaped our yard and dug another hole in attempt to release our neighbors caged rabbits. Good thing they caught him before he succeeded. I think that I could use some of those pills! Wow, we don’t need an aged puppy running around. 

Other than that, I have been fluctuating from excitement to terror. If running a marathon is anything like childbirth, at least it doesn’t last as long. 

Dogs, part 2

I have learned in the running world that dogs aren’t always your best friend. I have had multiple run ins with animals on the road. Last week I saw a fox for the first time. The week before I ran with a deer and almost saw a poor cat get hit by a truck. Thank God I never saw a bear or I would be griping about them instead. I used to run with my beagle up until last year. He is almost 8 and can no longer keep up with me. He runs with my husband instead. Last week I had to pick up my dog while running because he injured his paw. He howls and cries if we try to sneak out running without him. He loves it too. 

I used to run with my running partner and dog mainly on the back roads. Now I run on the busier roads because the people that live on those roads keep their dogs tied up. The first encounter happened with a Great Dane. The biggest dog I have ever seen. His head reached my chest and he was eyeing up my dog like he was a little house cat. I had a really big problem here because I couldn’t outrun my running partner. Thankfully the dog’s owner noticed he left the yard and got him before anyone was hurt. 

The second dog encounter involved a black lab. This dog seemed friendly enough. He frequently would chase us and bark a bit. No harm in that, right? Well one day he snuck up on us out of a brush filled ditch. We were running at a good pace when he startled us. This ambush caused my dog to run in front of me to avoid the other dog. I tripped over my dog and landed hard in the gravel. I gashed up my knee pretty bad. It was a long 2 miles home bleeding gravel out of my knee and hands from trying to catch myself. I have a scar on my knee as a reminder of my running days with my two “best friends”. 

I will be saying goodbye to my best friend and first running partner tonight as she is moving out of the state. I will miss our many adventures on and off the road. On to happier trails and new adventures. You will be greatly missed. 

Dogs, part 1

I remember the first day and last day the best, everything else is a blur of white fur. My parents and brothers came to pick me up from my grandma’s one evening after being at a birthday party of a little boy who had severe cerebral palsey. I opted out of going to the party because the previous year this little boy’s older brother decided to take me out on a little adventure which involved me getting lost in the woods. We trudged through the woods for hours, he knew his way back but I didn’t. He made me carry “dinosaur bones”, basically any old bones he could find, back to his house. If I didn’t carry those bones, I didn’t go home type of arrangement. Needless to say, I stayed at grandma’s house the next year. Mark came in the house to get me exclaiming that we now have our first dog. I didn’t believe him at first. It was dark out when I peeked into the car. Sure enough there was a big white dog in there. She was a stray named Whitey. The friendliest dog ever. 

The last day started like any other. It was a Saturday. I volunteered with grandma, Aunt Grace, and a few other older church ladies at the thrift shop. They always had me running the cash register. I don’t know why because I was only 13. Grandma said that if anyone wanted me to take their items out to their car for them that I needed to have her do it. Something about that not being very safe even though I was old enough to run the cash register. 

There was a problem with the dog when I got home. She was having a hard time going on her daily walk with mom. Mom said that Whitey probably drank the milk she set out for the cats. Her fur was matted up on her backside and she couldn’t go to the bathroom easily. Mom gave her a bath and trimmed her fur but she did not get better. Mom and I took her to the vet. The x-Ray showed that her intestine twisted. At this time, we made a horrible mistake by taking our dog back home. 

Afternoon turned towards evening with no improvement. During this time, I received a call from a girl named Ann who was a homeschooled. (This happened during our three years of being home bound after Matt got kicked out of school for his violent autistic behavior). Ann called to tell me about her trip to Australia that they just got back from. Sorry, gotta go, my dog is dying here. Can’t hear about your wonderful vacation. My mom, brothers, and I sat next to Whitey for the next several hours. Dad checked out and was watching TV. I am going to spare you the details here, but trust me when I tell you that my dog died an extremely painful death that lasted over the span of several hours. A couple of hours in my mom asked me if she should call the neighbor over to shoot our dog. I said, “Absolutely not!” This was a man who shot his cute little Beagle puppy for chasing his chickens. This type of logic is exactly why you do not ask a 13 year old to help make major decisions in the family!

After several more hours and after mom called the emergency vet services to see if there was surgery or anything else we could do, my dog died. I still have her collar in my jewelry drawer today. I still feel pained that I made the wrong decision if I really think about it. I still feel angry that I had to make a lot of adult decisions as a child that I wasn’t ready to make. 

The next morning as mom and I left for church, I saw Whitey laying on the front lawn. The wind was gently blowing her fur. I imagined that she was sleeping and that none of this really happened. I did that a lot as a kid, pretending that painful things didn’t happen.